China’s new Shenyang J-16 multi-role fighter jet may be entering service in increasing numbers with little fanfare, with all the lion’s share of attention centered on the stealthy Chengdu J-20 fighter’s development and introduction.
Images released through the Chinese military of your recent parade and use at Cangzhou in China’s northeastern Hebei province during the early January reveal that a minimum of two other People’s Liberation Army Air Force, or PLAAF, air brigades have converted or come in the entire process of converting on the J-16, bringing the complete to 3 such units proven to have the type into service.
This includes the 172nd and 176th brigades with the PLAAF’s Flight Test and Training Center, which can be “assigned the job of developing flight techniques, combat tactics and training curriculum for brand spanking new aircraft and equipment,” as outlined by Andreas Rupprecht, who may have authored a number of books on Chinese military aviation.
The serial number around the aircraft with the recent exercise suggests that the 3rd unit operating the J-16 may be the 98th Brigade based at Chongqing in China’s southwest. There have also been reports from China the 7th Brigade at Wuhu, Anhui province, is operating the J-16, although we’re unable to confirm this.
A small number of J-16s entered service using the Flight Test and Training Center’s 176th Brigade in 2015 for your PLAAF equivalent of operational testing and evaluation; however multiple sources have said the wider introduction with the type into PLAAF service was reportedly delayed due on the should refine the style of its active electronically scanned array radar produced by China’s No. 607 Institute.
The Shenyang J-16 can be an indigenously developed Chinese offshoot from the Russian Su-30 Flanker-C multirole fighter, that is also operated from the PLAAF and China’s People’s Liberation Army Navy. Unlike the Shenyang J-11B/BS, which can be a dedicated air combat aircraft based about the earlier Sukhoi Su-27, the J-16 is configured for both air-to-air and air-to-ground missions having its multimode AESA radar.
Like the J-11B/BS, the J-16 is powered through the Chinese WS-10 Taihang turbofan engine. However, the J-16 includes a provision for in-flight refueling, an infrared search and track system offset to the right in the canopy, and twin nose wheels to cope with a greater maximum takeoff weight, also it lacks a pitot tube on its nose cone.
An electronic attack version, tentatively designated J-16D, is under development, with no less than one prototype seen to make a number of test flights.